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12 May 2016

PSNI Crime Statistics conceal business crime reality

FOLLOWING publication of PSNI Crime Statistics today, FSB Northern Ireland has highlighted that the absence of business specific figures coupled with high levels of under-reporting reveals a more concerning reality.

Research published last month by FSB revealed that nearly a quarter of small businesses (24%) owners do not report crimes with nearly half (46%) of these businesses stating that they believed reporting would not achieve anything positive.

The research further established inconsistency between official crime statistics and reality. Throughout the UK, a third of small businesses believe that business crime is increasing in their areas.  This figure stands in stark contrast to official UK Government figures, published last year, stating that crime was decreasing.

Additionally, with business crime figures incorporated into the overall domestic crime statistics it is impossible to map specific criminal trends and target specific business support and safety.   This would enable organisations such as FSB (Northern Ireland’s largest business organisation) to develop more specific action, education and resources to members.  For instance, research revealing the high percentage and ongoing increase in cyber crime has been met with undertaking engagement on specialist cyber-crime groups and issuing specific guidance and legal assistance to businesses that have been effected.

Wilfred Mitchell OBE, FSB Policy Chair for Northern Ireland commented:  “Often retail figures published are mistakingly considered as representative of the impact of business crime.  However, retail crime is only one type of crime that impacts businesses in Northern Ireland; consequently overlooking rural crime, cyber crime and the wider scope of organised crime.

“Alongside the under-reporting of business crime, it is evident there is an innacurate picture of the extent crime impacts on local businesses and Northern Ireland economy overall.  This risks further undermining of confidence in the justice system in Northern Ireland.”

In conclusion, Mr Mitchell stressed the need to recognise that business crime can often have an impact on many lives.

“Business crime is not a victimless crime, it affects not only the business and its owner but also customer and employee confidence and security, to the extent that in some cases there may be loss of employment.  Financially it increases insurance payments and loss of profits through capital and time spent recovering the business following the criminal offence.

“FSB Northern Ireland Assembly Manifesto for 2016 highlights the need to increase business owners’ confidence in the PSNI through treating business crime figures individually to other crime statistics.  Additionally, FSB calls for inclusion in the Programme for Government of tougher sentences for perpetrators in recognition of the increased loss a business owner suffers.”  

Read more about Wilfred Mitchell